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Meet Francis Begbie Stuart, the scamp

Samseng Zhabor
I feel like this newsletter was getting more serious and heavy than I’d originally intended for it to be, so I’m recalibrating and moving it back towards the Happy Things that I want to share. I write heavy things a lot everywhere else as it is!
At the request of cat-loving friends of this newsletter, I’ve been introducing our boys. I’ve already told you about Houdini and Saltire; today, I tell the story of our littlest, Francis Begbie.
This newsletter is free, irregular and a little random. I’ve turned subscriptions on in case anyone would like to support this newsletter/my work in general, but you can also contribute funds towards buying cat cookies via Ko-Fi.

We had no intention of getting a third cat. Calum wasn’t even in Singapore at the time.
But then I got a call from the cat rescuer who’d brought Salty into our lives. She told me that two kittens had been trapped at a dormitory in Punggol, and that the management was threatening to dump them in some forested area somewhere if no one went by to pick them up. 🙀🙀🙀 Lots of cats had been trapped in the dorm recently; it didn’t seem like any of the cats there had been sterilised, so it’s not hard to guess what happened.
I jumped into a taxi and made my way up to the dormitory with a friend. The part-time security officer who’d called the cat rescuer was waiting for us. There weren’t two kittens, after all, just one fully grown cat.
They hadn’t known where to put him, so he’d been shut in a locker (with bars, so it was ventilated). They’d given him food and water, but no one had cleaned the locker, so he’d been stuck in there with his poop and pee. For three days.
Needless to say, he was pissed. off.
The cat carrier that I’d brought to put him in was shaking with the force of his yowling. He absolutely reeked.
Kirsten Han 韩俐颖
I have just rescued a cat and he is absolutely raging in the carrier. He’s been kept in a dirty box for three days so I’m going to need to shower him, please pray for me
I bundled the screaming boy to the vet, where he continued to complain very, very loudly as I filled in the registration form. One part of the form required me to put down his name. He obviously didn’t have one at the time, so I had to come up with something.
I looked at the bag. It sounded like a savage beast was trying to rip its way out from the inside.
In the blank that said “name”, I wrote “Begbie”.
Do you know Francis Begbie? He’s a character from Irvine Welsh’s novel Trainspotting, played with scary brilliance by Robert Carlyle in the film adaptation, and its sequel 20 years later. Begbie is violent, temperamental, and likely a psychopath.
An iconic Begbie scene.
An iconic Begbie scene.
It’d seemed appropriate in that moment, but life plays tricks on you. Once let out of the bag in the vet’s room, it turned out that the newly named Begbie was actually quite tame.
The first photo I took of Begbie at the vet's.
The first photo I took of Begbie at the vet's.
The vet estimated that he was about five to six years old. Months later, another vet would inform us that he was probably around two years old, maybe even just one-and-a-half. I guess tender loving care just takes the years off a cat, huh…
Begbie’s journey to becoming a member of the family was not without its drama. The second day he came home—when he still had to live in the bathroom, separated from the other two—I cracked open a high (high!) window for ventilation, and he actually managed to get out.
Kirsten Han 韩俐颖
JESUS CHRIST I opened the window a crack to air the bathroom a little bit and Begbie the lil’ fucker escaped and went behind the neighbour’s aircon unit TO NAP.

We’ve got him back in now and he’s purring on my lap like it was all part of the plan
I won’t give you a blow-by-blow of how Begbie got integrated into the family. Suffice to say, introducing a new cat into a household can be full of drama. And might involve one cat peeing and pooping in random places as they try to deal with their insecurities by marking their territory. We did not enjoy this part of the process. (If there’s interest, I’ll go into more detail about some of the things we did, and what we learnt, in a later issue.)
But there were plenty of cute bits, like the period when we kept Begbie on a lead so he could explore the living room while allowing us some control over how close he could get to the other cats.
One of the biggest hurdles was Houdini, who spent a long time suspecting Begbie of being a demon intruder. Houdini had been so much younger when Saltire came to us; I guess he’d long got used to the idea that Salty was his brother, but thought this new development was pretty bullshit.
It didn’t help that Houdini and Begbie got into a fight one night that resulted in a tear in Houdini’s hind leg, requiring a trip to the vet. And Houdini hates the vet. But he had to get sedated, his leg shaved, his wound stitched up, and he had to wear a cone for a month! The horror!
He eventually got over it, and Begbie was accepted as a new little brother. Houdini still bullies him from time to time, but we’ve also discovered that Begbie sometimes instigates the other cats to chase him (then screams when they do). When it doesn’t work, he tries to get humans to chase him.
Today, Francis Begbie is a happy, well-fed little cat who absolutely relishes having a family. He’s extremely good-natured, and loves cuddles. He’s the only one of our three cats who will let you cradle him like a baby for any length of time.
In short, very not like his namesake. But now we can’t call him anything else.
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Kirsten, the Samseng Zhabor
Kirsten, the Samseng Zhabor @kixes

A random, whimsical newsletter on dramas, cats, and life. Written by a journalist in need of a break from the news.

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